Friday, December 21, 2012

USPTO invalidates Apple’s famed “Pinch-to-zoom” patent

As reported by the WSJ, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated Apple’s patent of the “pinch-to-zoom” gesture widely used across all throughout iOS.

This particular patent has received considerable criticism since Apple filed for it in January of 2007. Many claim that the feature is too basic and trivial, and that limiting its use prevents reasonable competition in the market. US Patent No. 7,844,915 was discovered to have been invalidated when Samsung discovered it in searching through legal documents regarding their ongoing legal battle with Apple.

Although all 20 claims of the patent have been invalidated, the main claim is:

8. A machine readable storage medium storing executable program instructions which when executed cause a data processing system to perform a method comprising: receiving a user input, the user input is one or more input points applied to a touch-sensitive display that is integrated with the data processing system; creating an event object in response to the user input; determining whether the event object invokes a scroll or gesture operation by distinguishing between a single input point applied to the touch-sensitive display that is interpreted as the scroll operation and two or more input points applied to the touch-sensitive display that are interpreted as the gesture operation; issuing at least one scroll or gesture call based on invoking the scroll or gesture operation; responding to at least one scroll call, if issued, by scrolling a window having a view associated with the event object; and responding to at least one gesture call, if issued, by scaling the view associated with the event object based on receiving the two or more input points in the form of the user input.

This discovery causes more issues for Apple than immediately apparent, since this particular patent was one of the many claims presented in their case against Samsung. The two companies are in a suit over Samsung allegedly having “cloned” some of Apple’s products. With this new knowledge, Samsung is moving to have the case retried, with the evidence relating to pinch-to-zoom thrown out.

If successful, Samsung could be looking at a different outcome than the $1 billion they were already ordered to pay. Ultimately, it will be interesting to see if Samsung can find a judge to re-try the case, but this could spell trouble for Apple.

Did Apple deserve to have this patent or not? Leave your response in the comments below!

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